Loving Enough to Feel Unloved
Ah, the joys of Facebook. Through it, I got to see my cousin’s daughter dance a happy-birthday jig. I got to read about the crossroads of Must and Should. I know just how many people Like LoveLifePractice. I can suck on the Gravy Hose of status updates and UpWorthy and Salon all morning long, if I like. Has ever a tool been so effective at making us feel as though we are connected?
Even when we really aren’t?
Case in point: a friend recently called me, wisely reasoning that I was a “safe” call to make before she made the one she wanted to make. She’d just read on Facebook that someone dear to her was about to go on vacation – and that vacation was NOT to visit my friend.
“She’d always said she wanted to come see me. And now this! She’s going to freakin’ [REDACTED] instead! Now I see just how much she cares about me…”
There was a lot more to the rant. It was, in fact, quite an impressive rant. It included the valid recognition that she’d just stopped smoking, and therefore was mad at everybody. As I mentioned, she’s a smart cookie; I was the safe call.
To be honest, I was careful in how I talked. Those Quitters can be scary in the first few days…
Taking It Impersonally
As we talked, I managed to help her remember some things she already knew – namely, that there’s really no logical relationship between “I’m going on vacation” and “I love you.” Especially when it wasn’t personally directed – it was just a “Yay! I’m going on vacation!” status post, a shared joy intended to increase the smile quotient of the world by some fractional percentage.
My friend realized that she was choosing to be furious over the situation – which is not necessarily wrong (I’m furious about Chief Justice Roberts recent ruling, for example, and that’s entirely justified). But there’s a big difference between choosing to be angry and believing that someone is making you angry.
I got to watch a beautiful thing: I got to watch my friend choose not to be angry. I got to watch her recognize the chain of logic that had led from Vacation to Unloved was made of tissue paper. I got to see her recognize that really, what was underlying the whole thing was that she loved that vacationing Facebook friend a whole lot, and missed her.
And then it got better.
The Lonely High Road
“Fine, I won’t be mad,” she said. “But I’m gonna talk to her. I just want to hear her say it. After she promised to come visit me, I want to hear her say that [REDACTED] is more important than me.”
“Do you really think that’s fair?” I asked. “Is that really what taking that vacation means?”
My friend realized that she was looking for some acknowledgement of her pain, some way to share it, because shared pain is lessened. That, in fact, was why she called me, and yes, it helped. But calling her friend for any reason other than saying “Have fun!” would be selfish.
Sure, it sucks when you can’t see people you care about, and you see them going off other places. But we’re all adults; we get to go where we choose, and that’s that. There’s no super-agenda. There’s no nefarious plot to ruin your day. There’s no hidden significance to choosing to go on vacation, especially as it relates to how you feel about your friends.
In the end, my friend took what I called “the High Road.” It’s a lonely road, because few people take it. In fact, to be honest, we figured that the Facebook Vacationer would almost certainly not have taken the High Road. But because my friend is powerful in her love, she was able to rise up to those lonely heights and just Let. It. Go.
It was impressive. I, myself, have a hard time taking the High Road as often as I could.
But my friend?
Damn, she looked good up there.